NEWS15 March 2017

Now for the fun part … gamification goes mainstream

FMCG Impact 2017 News Retail Travel UK

UK – Fun surveys and online games are breathing new life into market research. The Impact 2017 conference heard how gamification can explain why blondes really do have more fun, and why your next holiday should be in Rome.


Building the principles of gaming and fun into the business of consumer research is not just a tool for consumer engagement and therefore better results, but also a way to engage clients in the insights it produces.

Alex Wheatley, innovation researcher at Lightspeed, summed up the need for gamification: “Unengaged participants will give rubbish data.”

Betty Adamou, CEO, Founder and Chief ResearchGame™ Designer said games could take out the boredom factor from surveys and other traditional research.

“This is cure rather than prevention. You’ve got a lot of techniques to identify disengaged people … but why not come to it from a completely different angle and cure that issue?”

In a lively conference session complete with a bingo-style quiz, an online game and prizes aplenty, three case studies showing the power of gaming were presented.

*Adamou’s work for the activewear brand lucy was first in the spotlight. She created a three-level game in which women became a ‘designer for a day’ and customised their own pair of activewear bottoms online, from design and colour to pockets and even price. The work not only informed the brand’s next range, by understanding customer preferences, but could also play a broader role in addressing sustainability.

The volume of clothing being thrown away amounted to 7 tonnes every 10 minutes; this was a way the fashion industry could help reduce that, Adamou said.

“It’s not just about how can I use research in fashion to sell more stuff. For me it was also about saying why don’t we know what to make more of, and what to make less of, so there’s less waste?”

Gamification was also an effective client-engagement tool. Rather than take interest in research when it was time to present the insights, the client team – from design to marketing – was keen to be involved right from the beginning.

"The client said it was the first time no one just came for the free M&Ms," Adamou said.

* The second project involved Engage Research work for John Frieda haircare products; in trying to generate stories that would attract media attention and engage consumers, a piece of research asking women to discuss their own hair was rolled out.

Rather than using regular questions and sliding scales, elements of gamification were built into the survey to make completing it more fun. Animated haircuts, spaces where people were urged to ‘have a rant’ about their hair struggles, and unusual questions – like which model, the blonde or the brunette – you’d rather go to the cinema with, helped liven up a well-discussed topic.

“We know that if they’re engaged with it they’ll be better respondents, they’ll give us more quality in their verbatim responses and they’ll happily spend longer doing the survey,” said Deb Sleep, owner of Engage Research.

As well as getting a strong response, the work did indeed generate headlines: 65% of respondents said they’d rather go to the cinema with the blonde model but would prefer the brunette as their doctor. So, blondes really do have more fun.

* The third case presented a battle between humans and machines to come up with the perfect holiday on a budget of £800, with elements of gamification built into both approaches.

A range of more than 30,000 combinations of destinations, activities and features – like views, pools, saunas and bike riding – were made available.

Lightspeed took the human route to narrowing down the options, using a gamified survey allowing people to spend their £800 budget by clicking on a range of options and building their own package.

SKIM, meanwhile, used automated conjoint techniques with gamification – people could slide right for a combination they liked and left for one that they didn’t – and used the results to create their version of the ideal holiday.

Both systems chose Rome as the ideal short-haul destination, but the human, Lightspeed technique built in more relaxing options than the SKIM trip. For a long-haul beach holiday, SKIM went for a sauna in the Seychelles, while Lightspeed came up with a poolside Maldives stay. Overall, the results were remarkably similar.

“What we’ve shown here is we need humans,” said Patricia Dominguez, senior research analyst at SKIM, “to give that extra explanation of ‘why’.”